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When was the first "fair and free election" in Turkey,I wonder ?

Reader comment on item: Turkey's Last Free Election
in response to reader comment: This is a wrongheaded analysis

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Jun 13, 2011 at 17:03

I was a bit puzzled by Dr. Pipes' , whose scholarly and rhetoric qualities I greatly admire, bold statement "I now warn: Elections taking place today are likely to be the last fair and free ones in Turkey."

And the reason for my puzzlement was that apparently unlike Dr. Pipes I can't remember or even imagine a "fair and free election" in any country without freedom of speech.Now the point is that Turkey is notorious for its lack of freedom of speech and thought.

Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha aka Atatürk,so praised by Dr. Pipes on various occasions, was a bloody tyrant that founded and ruled a one-party system.When opposition to his dictatorial rule,at the beginning encouraged by himself, threatened to become a real political force, the so called "founder of modern Turkey" had recourse to ... the proven Ottoman methods on which Kemal's hagiographers in Turkey, whom Dr. Pipes refers to , are unanimously silent but, fortunately enough, contemporary sources don't spare us colourful details on them. In an articcle with the arresting title "Typical terrible Turk" "Time" writes on 6.09.1926 on how Kemal dealt with the opposition ... by having 17 opposition leaders simply hanged in public after a show trial :

"The 17 were jerked into eternity, after farcical legal proceedings, because they were suspected of attempting to form a new party in opposition to President Kemal. He, knowing well the mettle of these opponents who had successfully overthrown "Abdul the Damned," resorted to the only sure curb for Turkish intrigants—the noose. Paradoxically Dictator-President Kemal rose to fame and power as a general in the Young Turk armies, a subordinate of the men hanged by his orders last week."

Kemal's career and character are full of Oriental duplicity,treason and cruelty. As "Time" shrewdly remarks : "President Kemal, though "Europeanized," has still the attributes of the "typical terrible Turk." "

Enthusiastic statements by Dr. Pipes and others that "Atatürk imposed a dizzying array of changes including European laws" are only part of a more complicated and not so optimistic story and maybe the part of it willingly swept under the carpet explains best the later dysfunctionality and degenerative transmutations of Kemalism which we observe today?

So e.g. the 1926 article gives also a curious glimpse into Kemal's contempt for international law and America in particular ("the arbitrary and unexplained closing by the Turkish police of a Baby Clinic, charitably financed by U. S. citizens").One could give more examples of Kemal's xenophobia, anti-Western jingoism and anti-Semitism (including the notorious anti-Jewish pogroms in Thrace in 1934) which we are told to attribute only to the "bad Islamists" of today.

In any case what the fraudulent Turkish hagiography has made of Kemal has very little to do with the real person as we see through contemporary documents. Kemal wasn't the idealistic far-sighted enlightened genius who guarantees Turkey's allegiance to the Western values.He was what his contemporaries have seen in his acts ,not grandiloquent words -"a typical terrible Turk" and today's rulers of Turkey are not much different in that respect from him even though they follow a different idea.

But with the end of Kemal's one-party dictatorship no freedom of speech was introduced at all.Unlike in the USSR after Stalin's death Kemal's crimes and aberrations after his death have never been exposed and denounced in Turkey.Far from it ! A law was passed in July 1951 (Nr 5816) to protect the sanctity of the memory of Atatürk. It says i.al. : "To anyone offending or insulting Ataturk's memory, a sentence from one year to three years of prison should be applied". But the sentence can be doubled if a (thought)'crime' was committed in the media or by a group of people.

Now the sanctity of the memory of Ataturk, given the notorious historical facts of his life, is both a very flexible and tricky issue.If applied rigorously it makes any free discourse on Kemal, Kemalism and the political system in Turkey as impossible as the sanctity of the memory of Mohammed makes impossible any critical remarks on Islam. One recent example includes a Turkish scholar jailed because he tried to discard Kemal's absurd theories on history and his "sun language theory" which makes Turks the oldest inhabitants of earth and Turkish the first human lnguage! By the way, quoting the 1926 "Time" article "Typical terrible Turk" in Turkey would be for me tantamount with 3 years in jail if I were lucky enough to escape a bullet or a knife of an angry admirer of Kemal's holiness.

I will omit here the better known Article 301 which reinforces the previous law on the sanctity of Kemal's memory. Its consequences for freedom of speech are as devastaing as Law 5816.

So much for freedom of speech in "modern" Turkey.

Given the obvious fact that Turkey has been intentionally constructed by Kemal as and has always been a police state and eo ipso has never enjoyed freedom of speech - I repeat neither under Kemal himself nor under his successors and worshippers- I'd love to learn how Dr. Pipes has arrived at his conclusion as to "the last fair and free election" in Turkey, if before to the best of my memory there has never been a single case of fair and free elections because the most fundmanetal precondition of any fair and free election is freedom of speech ? And this precondition is not fulfilled in the case of Turkey. Or maybe Turkey is an enchanted Oriental wonderland where one doesn't need freedom of speech to have "fair and free election"?

Submitting....

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